INDONESIA

21st December 2014

 

On the 18th of December, for the last time (for few weeks), I turned off the alarm at 5am.

I went to work as usual, starting at 6.30am doing the opening set up, and after my 8 hours shift instead of heading back home like everyday, I grabbed my backpack and took a train to the airport.

Finally!

Freedom; one months of careless living, aiming to nothing but enjoying myself and the beautiful world that kindly hosts me.

My departure has been delayed two days due to “aircraft maintenance”.

Bullshit. Do you really think I believe you have to check the plane right the day after the Sydney siege and you advise me just few hours before the flight? Just say it! “We’re shitting in our pants”, that’s it!

Not such a big deal though as I find that two days less of vacation is far better than suddenly loosing someone because of a goddam fucked up in the head muslim. I’m so glad you’re rotting in hell right now, motherfucker.

I left this bitterness behind and kept going on with my new adventure, but the pain of feeling Australia so fragile and wounded doesn’t go away overnight.

I arrived at the airport at 3.30 and left at 6.30, with one hour delay. 6 hours later I landed in Bali.

I spent the first two days in Denpasar’s centre, pretty far from everything. It’s been “refreshing” not to see a single western face for a couple of days. I always try to experience the real life of the places I visit, going where locals go and doing what they do. I stayed in a small guest house, lost in the maze that is Denpasar’s streets.

I walked between 5 and 8 hours a day, breathing the smog of the thousands of scooters that clog up the city. It’s never been so hard for me to breath. Well, I take it back, in Bangkok I vomited while walking along the street, but that was for the smell, here I cannot breath because of the smog.

I’ve also never seen so many scooter with so many people on! Neapolitans are nothing compare to balinese. (If you haven’t been in Napoli you probably won’t get it).

I spent the whole morning of the second day walking to find a money exchange. It was saturday, banks were closed and indonesians are surprisingly unaware of anything happening around them. Nobody knows anything, even the rare english speakers, you ask something and they stare at you like you were a ghost. Maybe ’cause I’m blond, who knows…

I ended up bargain a ride with a driver to go to the Tanah Lot, the most famous temple in Bali.

By the way, I found a money exchange right in front of the entry.

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Unfortunately the weather was really bad, it’s wet season now and even if it’s incredibly hot it’s constantly cloudy.

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I’m so disappointed of the pictures I took. I tried to use all my Photoshop skills to make them better. It made them worse and that’s even more disappointing!

I thought it could be better to think about it in a second time and focus on spend the time I had left in Indonesia in the hinterland, as going to the beach would have been a waste of time and money. Everybody have the idea of Indonesia being cheap like most of asian countries. It’s not really true. Food and clothes are very cheap, but transports and tours are not. I always try to visit the place by myself, avoiding tours and tourist places, but here is quite impossible. Rent your own vehicle is cheap but very dangerous, if you don’t have a travel insurance, don’t do it. Tons of foreigners are injured or worse, killed, every year. The most common way to move around the island is to charter a van. You have to bargain, and the price is still expensive, but it’s the only way. There are no trains, and the closest thing to a bus are “bemos”, smelly old trucks that locals use to move around. They are incredibly cheap, but if you’re white they ask you up to 30 times the price the locals pay. Because if you’re white that means that you can afford anything and you find money growing in your backyard. That pisses me off so bad. Tell me, who’s the racist?

Also boats and ferries are not really affordable. A round trip to the next island is around $75.

Daily tours are even worse. You have to spend around $50 for a daily tours that brings you in three places to take some pictures. If you want to do some activities you must spend hundreds of dollars.

Pricing is the main reason why people rather travel to Thailand than Indonesia. Here they charge you for everything, even to cross the street to see rice fields in Tegalalang.

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The cheapest way to travel around is to rent a scooter for the daily price of $5, but if you don’t have an insurance, don’t do it.Too many times tourists are injured or worse, killed, in accidents with scooters. Streets are in very bad condition, holes everywhere, and the people is crazy. There’s no law. There should be left side drive, but the truth is that you see scooters coming from every direction, left, right, from the walkway. And when you arrive at an intersection, well, good luck. A nightmare. I refused to rent a scooter ’cause I know myself, I’m a tempered driver and for sure I would have ended up punching someone.

I needed to get out of the city so I manage to arrive in Ubud, a small town up on the hill, considered the cultural capital of Bali. Countless art shops and galleries colour the city, while thousands of scooters pollute the air. The traffic situation is more o less like in the city. During the pick hour I couldn’t even ride my bike so messy were the streets.

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Fortunately the guest house where I stayed was one mile away from the messy centre.

Anyway, despite my lack of interest for any kind of shopping, I’ve been amazed by the wonderful handcraft art I saw here. It’s a pity there’s no shipping deals to send goods overseas. They would sell 10 times more, but the weight restrictions at the airport and the cost of extra baggage cause people to give up and opt for some light weight clothes to bring as a gift.

I’m surrounded by nature, at the edge of the Monkey Forest, but the best part, I admit, is the pool….

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I miss the beach, I need the beach, I need the sun. The weather is not bad considered that’s wet season, but still far from good.

Another day has begun, it’s 7 am and I have no idea what to do today. Not having a plan is very relaxing.

 

27th December 2014

 

The last week has been quite nice and relaxing. Escaping from the city was the best thing to do, and avoid the crowded beaches has been a smart move.

The traffic problem though bothered me from the beginning ’till the end. The main street that crosses the city centre is constantly stuck and I had to wear a mask to walk to the market. I couldn’t breath.

After Ubud I headed to the airport and spent the night on the floor, watching people coming and going.

Finally the morning arrived and I took a early flight to Manila, looking forward to visit the Philippines.

My trip to Indonesia has been quite disappointing.

The worse part was the smog that left me breathless even in the hinterland, hours away from the city. The people then constantly try to rip you off and take advantage of you. Transports for both short and long distance trip, are much more expensive that the rest of Asia.

People ask you money for everything: for information, for a walk in rice fields, for a picture. The only thing you don’t have to pay for is the air. You can breath all their smog for free.

My stay was very short and concentrate only in Bali, but honestly the impression that I have doesn’t make me wanna see much more. I’ll go somewhere else.

 

19th January 2015

 

Quick update. After being in The Philippines and then back in Bali for two days before heading back to Sydney, I say it again: GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! But if you feel like swimming between diapers and condoms, well, Kuta Beach is the right spot for you.

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